Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My thoughts on the first ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT episode

Since a lot of you wondered.

I was never a super big ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT fan. Found it very funny in spots and trying too hard in others. I re-watched a few episodes of the original series to get myself re-acquainted and found them even better than I had remembered. I’ll be honest – I’m not a Will Arnett fan. Never been. Find him sketchy and not funny in anything he’s in. So that’s a problem. But everyone else can make me laugh in the right bit. Okay, not so much Portia but everyone else.

I thought the first new episode showed promise but was waaaaay too convoluted. So much narration and legal jargon – I couldn’t follow it, nor did I care. I was also confused by the time frame. Seems to me they posted SIX MONTHS EARLIER and in that period Michael built an entire housing development and it went bust? Try getting a contractor to build a shelf in less than a year.  I laughed at a bunch of things, LOVED the whole airport sequence, was glad to see the characters back, and like all of you – wish there could have been more with everybody (although I understand the unique logistical problems they had during production).

I understand that everything ultimately pays off, and I applaud them for how ambitious the storytelling apparently is, especially considering all the limitations they had to work around. But as a casual fan, episode one didn’t compel me to quickly watch all of the rest. Frankly, I get a little scared when I hear “if you can get through the first two hours it starts to pick up…”

I may catch up to them at some point, but the show is not targeted to me. It’s targeted to the hardcore fans and for them it seems to deliver. So I say to all ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT fanatics, have at it and enjoy every last throwaway line and delicious inside moment. As the slogan goes, “This one’s for YOU.”


Splenda said...

I completely agree with you about Will Arnett. He has guest-starred on some of my favorite shows (30 Rock, Parks & Rec, the Office) and I have never found him funny.

I know that he made his career with AD and comedy, but his agent needs to get him into some serious roles (indie movie route?), because he was pretty good as the FBI agent on the Sopranos.

Skitch said...

Absolutely loved the first two seasons (the third was a bit spotty) but after watching the first two episodes of season 4, I'm not binge watching either. I'll get around to it eventually but the new eps miss a step overall.

Justin said...

You should push through to the first Will Arnett-based episode -- there's a brief gag in there that may be of some personal interest. (Also, many, many Hollywood jokes.)

Unknown said...

A bit like the time frame on Mad Men where Betty suddenly got skinny in 2 minutes. I miss her Weight Watcher's meetings.

I agree. Funny but not laugh out loud funny.

Anonymous said...

Very conflicted on this. I applaud the audacity of what they're doing. Each episode builds on the last and there are tiny little sight gags and throwaways in one that are paid off several times down the line.

However, I kinda hate that I haven't seen an actual episode of Arrested Development yet. Maybe in the macro view all 15 will sort of function as one big episode. But these individually focused episodes only serve to demonstrate how strong this cast was at playing off one another. Lindsay and Tobias on their own? Not nearly as funny as Lindsay and Tobias interacting with one another.

Smaller things:
I am similarly confused by the time structure. It appears that a year has passed since the end of season three. But the way the narratives keep colliding coincidentally feels like it's all happening on the same couple of days.

The whole housing development / Bluth company / what George Sr. is doing is pretty hard to follow. It all hinges on Lucille 2 and all comes to a head at the same moment. So I'm hoping it gets cleared up by 15 (I'm on 9), but right now it's clear as mud. There seems to be a good chunk of exposition that's been added in during ADR throughout, so possibly it's not just me. Hurwitz and Co. might not have completely made it clear.

Mike said...

"Duh dur-dur du-duh du-du-dur-duh... this is the story of two sisters..."
Just admit it. It's a rehash of Soap (US, 77-81).

For the confused or disinterested, recaps of 1-5, 6-10 & 11-15.

An (is my actual name) said...

Honestly, if you're not a big fan of the series or don't care about working the puzzle pieces, I don't see the harm in jumping ahead to the better episodes. I'm a fan of TOS, but in S4, I really started laughing in the fifth episode.

Craig Edwards said...

Not a Portia fan? I thought she was hilarious in Better Off Ted. What did you think of that show, Mr. Levine?

BMR said...

I’ve seen most of it. Like it’s preceding seasons there are hit and miss moments but for me mostly hits with the new season. The Brian Grazer / Jerry Bruckheimer insider stuff on one episode is hysterical and Tommy Tune as a clinic administrator is out of left field but works on many levels. And I can never get enough of Will Arnett in his magician role.

The downside; as good as Ron Howard is in the role there is simply too much narration.

It’s definitely worth watching though. I still have another four episodes to view, my ass is killing me.

Mark said...

When AD first debuted I noticed that many if not most of the gags relied on the narrator for the set-up. Annoyed the crap out of me.

I heard it got better but I never could get into the show. (Also didn't help that I didn't care for Arnett and didn't know LA very well at the time.)

Johnny Walker said...

Pretty much completely agree, apart from the Portia de Rossi comment -- I love her -- and the stuff about Arnett (although when I rewatched the series in prep for Season 4 he did grate a bit -- hmm -- I've never seen him in anything else, and it sounds to me like that's maybe a good thing).

Kudos on taking an interest and trying to appreciate a show you're not really a fan of.

normadesmond said...

i loathed jack cassidy and will is a clone of him.

Mac said...

Thanks for that, Ken. I was keen to know what you thought. That seems to be the consensus from reviews (the ones that are worth reading). Those who adored it before will stick with it and it rewards them, those who were more ambivalent, won't.

Personally I was totally hooked and would binge on it for hours, so I'll probably do the same with this one - when I get used to the new format.

Siberian Khatru said...

In one of the later episodes, there is a reference to a "writer from Cheers", and it includes a picture of said writer. I didn't recognize the person, is it really one of the writers or just a joke?

Scooter Schechtman said...

I could tell from your past posts you were, in your diplomatic way, Not A Fan.
I'd like to see your opinion of "Sullivan & Son" when it returns. My opinion of Rob Long is similar to yours of Arnett, though I won't bring up politics here.

Ronald said...


I saw Woody Harrelson on David Letterman last week and he told the story about when he auditioned for Cheers. He said the producers already had a guy in mind but when Woody walked in he sneezed really loud and it made the room howl with laughter. He gave the impression this is what got him the job. Also... he briefly mentioned that he didn't always make it to rehearsals. Is this true and if so what problems did it create ?

Kid Presentable said...

I'm looking at what specs I want to write this year, and I'm wondering how to handle the fact that a lot of shows are so heavily serialized now? Most dramas still have some kind of "case of the week" format, but the season arc gets a lot more screentime per episode than it used to, I feel. How does a spec writer slot their story into that? Or do you ignore it entirely?

What if you want to write a spec for a show that left things up in the air in the season finale? I'm really interested in Parks & Rec, but the season ended with a question of whether Leslie will even be in office next season.

If somebody's reading my spec about Leslie's job as city councilwoman next year but Leslie got the boot two episodes ago, do I look out of touch? Will it feel like an old script, or that I didn't do my research?

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

Also... he briefly mentioned that he didn't always make it to rehearsals. Is this true and if so what problems did it create ?

I think it was Vanity Fair did a long 20th anniversary story on Cheers that goes into Woody's, um, work habits. You can probably find it in the 'tubes

D. McEwan said...

I am so glad to see that I am not the only one who just doesn't "get" why people think Will Arnett is so damn funny. I've yet to see him play any role that wouldn't have been funnier played by someone else. I don't actively hate him, like I do Will Ferrell, I just see nothing special about him, or even adaquate. One big "Meh." But I was beginning to think that I'm the only one.